Conspiracy (Amendment)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th February 1975.

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Photo of Lieut-Colonel David Mather Lieut-Colonel David Mather , Esher 12:00 am, 25th February 1975

This matter needs to be put in absolutely clear and unmistakeable terms. We have the story put over by the opposite side of the House. It is time for the true facts to be given. Never in the history of picketing have such violent scenes taken place in this country.

On the matter of law, six men were tried on three counts of conspiracy to intimidate, unlawful assembly and affray. Tomlinson and Warren were found guilty of all three, although Tomlinson faced 30 other counts and Warren 39 other counts of assault and intimidation. On appeal the first two were upheld and the third quashed on a point of law. The conspiracy element is commonly used in such cases to accentuate the degree of criminality of the crime.

Continuing on the matter of law, the hon. Gentleman may wish to pray in aid the Law Commission's Report No. 50. It will be noted that the report is critical of conspiracy for unlawful acts and civil wrongs such as fraud and indecency. But it is not critical of conspiracy when it is a question of committing a criminal offence. In any case this was issued only as a discussion paper. If the hon. Member has this in mind he is wilfully misunderstanding the report.

I come now to the question of motive. I have to draw to the attention of the House the fact that the hon. Gentleman is well known as an extreme Left winger. He has been prominent in opposing the defence cuts and he has got into trouble—not only with his Front Bench, but also with his constituents, particularly those working for BAC. [An HON. MEMBER: "He is not on trial."] The hon. Member is also one of the leading opponents of the increases in the Civil List and is also a leading member of the "Troops Out" campaign and took—[Interruption.]—part in the IRA rally in London on 27th October, when 9 were arrested and 14 were subsequently charged with conspiracy.